Peter Smith, just a few weeks shy of becoming president and CEO of American Systems Corp., discusses his career and talks about the future of the company under his leadership.
Any company that taps new leadership from within its own ranks conveys a strong message of security to its customers. In the case of American Systems Corp., the promotion of COO Peter Smith to CEO to replace the retiring Bill Hoover conveys an even more powerful message to its employees—that if you stick with the company, there is tremendous opportunity for personal growth.
Smith is a prime example, having spent his entire career with American Systems. “When I graduated from the University of Massachusetts back in 1980, I had aspirations to be an engineer,” he said. “With the engineering that I did, I got to learn more about the industry, and then that expanded out into management of programs, and I’ve been very fortunate to be at American Systems."
The company afforded Smith a continuous set of opportunities to learn more about the industry, he said, which then translated into moving into areas of greater and greater responsibility.
Now is a great time to take over as CEO because the company is doing well, has a solid foundation and a strong leadership team, he added.
On Monday, current president and CEO Bill Hoover announced his plans to retire at the end of the month, and Smith expects the transition to be smooth.
“In the short term, I think things are going to be largely the same because we did spend a lot of time developing our strategies and capabilities as we were going forward, so it’ll be a relatively seamless transition for both the employees and the customer,” he said.
The company specializes in providing human capital services, managed services and professional services, among other offerings, mainly to the armed forces, but also to a few civilian agencies and will continue to do so after Smith takes over.
Things might start to eventually shift, though, as the company moves toward new areas of growth. Just as government priorities have crept more and more toward health care IT and energy independence, so American Systems will also shift itself in order to be in a better position to serve those customers.
But the foundation will remain the same. The fact that American Systems is employee-owned is an integral part of its culture and has been of great value to the company in general. “A while ago, we did a market survey with our customers and we asked them if they would be more likely or less likely to buy from an employee-owned company and why,” Smith said. The respondents opted for an employee-owned company because, he said, they believed that the employee owners are more motivated toward a quality approach.
“Our employees very much care about what they deliver and how they deliver it, and they make sure that we are servicing our customers,” he added.
Being an employee-owned company also helps the company’s stability in the long run because it allows American Systems to take a more long-range look at the marketplace and decide what is best for the company instead of making a short-term decision just to “meet the street,” Smith said.